Had an interesting confluence of influences this week. I sent another Better Software article to the copyeditor this week, and in it I cite (again) Harry Robinson's work. I am by no means an expert model-based tester, but understanding the basics of Harry's work is a fine tool to have in the toolbox. Harry is using Watir for testing Google Maps, as you can see if you grab the pdf and the Ruby files off of the site.
And I read that James Kim and his family may have gotten into trouble because they trusted an online map service.
I live in a pretty remote part of Colorado. A little over a year ago, my wife and I used Google Maps to navigate to another remote part of Colorado, where we were going to visit a friend. Google Maps routed us via the Mosca Pass Road.
As I mentioned to Harry, "The problem is that while Mosca Pass Road exists, it hasn't had any traffic other than hikers and horses for the last 100 years or so" Here's where Google Maps routes you today. I don't know if the bug got fixed because of Harry, but the Mosca Pass Road runs over the north shoulder of that big snowy mountain in the satellite view. You don't want to take your car there, unless you've got high-clearance 4-wheel drive and a winch for the hard parts. And we were driving at night.
Furthermore, I know someone from Georgia once who looked at a Rand McNally Atlas and figured they'd just find a dirt road running from Ouray CO to Telluride CO. They didn't realize Telluride is in a box canyon surrounded by 13000-foot peaks. I persuaded this person not to do that. This was before Google Maps existed. You can't get there from here-- at least not the way you think you can.
When you live in a city, and especially when you deal with technology for a living, so much of your world is online, you forget how much wild country still exists in the US. There are still many millions of square miles in the US where you can get into big, big trouble with hardly any effort at all.
So please, be skeptical of what the mapping software reports. And look at the satellite view.